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U.S. Senate Approves Trump Nominee with Kansas Connections for Federal Reserve Board

U.S. Senate Approves Trump Nominee and Kansas Native for Federal Reserve
By Martin Crutsinger / AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump's nominee, Michelle Bowman, to serve a full 14-year term on the seven-member Federal Reserve board.  Bowman was approved today (THUR) on a 60-31 vote, winning the support of 49 Republicans and 11 Democrats. Only one Republican, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, joined Democrats voting no.

Bowman is a graduate of the University of Kansas in Lawrence and Washburn University's School of Law in Topeka.  She graduated from high school in Council Grove, Kansas.  Bowman has held a spot on the Fed board designated for a community banker since November 2018, filling a vacancy on the panel that had a term ending on January 31. Trump, who has been highly critical of the Fed over the past year, renominated her for a full 14-year term.  Before joining the Fed, Bowman served as state bank commissioner of Kansas and had been an executive of a community bank in the state.

The Fed board still has two other vacancies. Trump said in early July that he planned to nominate conservative economist Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller, head of research at the Fed's St. Louis regional bank, for the two spots.  However, the White House has yet to send those nominations to the Senate.  Shelton has a history of criticizing the Fed's policies and has also supported a return to the gold standard, under which the value of the dollar would be tied to a specific amount of gold.  She and Waller would replace two potential nominees initially supported by Trump — former 2012 GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain and conservative commentator Stephen Moore. Cain withdrew after allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity resurfaced, while Moore withdrew after news organizations unearthed his writings belittling women.

Of the five current members of the Fed board, only Lael Brainard was not nominated by Trump. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, a Republican, was initially nominated to the board by then-President Barack Obama but he was elevated to chairman by Trump when the president decided not to offer Janet Yellen a second term as Fed chair.
Despite the Fed board being composed largely of his picks, Trump has been unrelenting in his criticism of the central bank, arguing that it pushed rates too high last year with four rate hikes and should be moving much more aggressively to cut rates now.

The Fed did cut rates for the first time in a decade in July and is expected to cut them by another quarter-point at its meeting next week. However, Trump on Tuesday tweeted that the Fed should be cutting rates to zero or even lower. The Fed's benchmark rate is now at 2% to 2.25%.

AP writers Laurie Kellman and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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